The Central Washington basketball team is off to a good start (4-1) behind the hot hand of their newest addition. Mark McLaughlin is averaging 25 points per game and is definitely their go-to player.
McLaughlin made a short stop in Seattle before deciding to leave the program to "pursue other opportunities". Those other opportunities were apparently to join a cast of his former teammates from Tacoma Community College at Central Washington and out of the spotlight.
McLaughlin has a track record of committing to a program before an undisclosed reason makes him alter his decision. The 2008 graduate from Inglemoor High near Seattle has committed to WSU, Nevada, Baylor, Seattle U, TCC, and UW.
Last season at TCC McLaughlin completed his only full season with a program putting up gaudy numbers. He led the nation in scoring at that level, averaging 28.4 points per game, and led TCC to a NWAACC championship.
McLaughlin committed to UW shortly after he wrapped up his season at TCC and was expected to be a vital part of the offense this year. If he was still wearing the purple and gold would he have made an impact on the Huskies slow start?
Although McLaughlin is already putting up impressive numbers, his numbers only look good in the box score. He is shooting 53-percent from the field, 35-percent from behind the arc, and averaging just over six rebounds a game.
On the court McLaughlin doesn't seem to try at all. He's not especially good on the defensive end, jogging around frequently trying to find his man. On offense he doesn't have to work too hard to get open as most of his shots come in transition. When he gets the ball at the top of the key he is either going to put up the shot or drive to the cup.
McLaughlin may just be that much better than the competition at that level, so it's tough to gauge how he would fit in at Washington's level.
If he was still at UW he might show a different side out on the court, but those questions will remain, apparently forever, unaswered. McLaughlin has the talent of a Division I basketball player, but his motivation for the game may be lacking. Which also may be an underlining reason why he decided to leave UW in the first place.
McLaughlin may have felt too much pressure to come in and perform immediately. There may have been too much anxiety to deal with long trips, a much more difficult academic system, and no real familiarity. At CWU he isn't under the spotlight, and he has the familiarity of his teammates.
Whatever the reason is, McLaughlin is a much better fit in the small town of Ellensburg than he would have been in the spotlight of Seattle.